A modern-day Renaissance Woman, Dr. Chika Oriuwa’s talents are truly diverse. A doctor, poet, spoken word artist, and a fierce advocate for the underprivileged, Oriuwa has leveraged each of her skills as stepping stones for people in marginalized populations.

Born to Nigerian immigrant parents in Toronto, Oriuwa graduated high school as the valedictorian of her class in 2011. After completing a bachelor’s degree in health sciences, she felt the call to take a year off and focus on her poetry. Her interest in poetry began as early as kindergarten, and was a passion she continued to nurture throughout school. Her powerful messages paved the way for her to enter multiple national spoken word and slam poetry competitions, and helped her cultivate a strong and distinct voice, which she would continue to use as she transitioned to healthcare.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

As the first solo Black female valedictorian of the University of Toronto, she provided much-needed inspiration to a younger generation of aspiring doctors. She recalls the moment she knew for certain that psychiatry would be her specialty: throughout her medical rotations, she never doubted her role as a physician, but when a Black female patient cried tears of relief upon seeing a doctor from the same demographic as herself, Oriuwa knew what she had to do. “That was a moment, just recognizing how uniquely situated I would be in psychiatry, where Black patients get differential treatment.”

Oriuwa has become the ambassador and public face of the University of Toronto’s Black Student Application Program, which connects applicants with Black professors, students, and other community members more closely throughout their application process. She also co-founded the Black Interprofessional Students' Association (BIPSA), designed to help graduate students develop networks across different fields.

Currently a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto’s Medical School, she is also the co-director of Uflow, a nonprofit youth leadership organization. Recently, the Mattel corporation honored her with a Barbie doll cast in her likeness as one of the company’s six Role Model Program dolls celebrating frontline healthcare workers.